- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by David Medsker
t’s hard to get emotionally invested in one-day movies like “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” There are exceptions to this, of course, and John Hughes is responsible for two of them (“The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), but by and large, one day is just not enough time to get to know someone. This movie is no different, with the supporting characters being reduced to playing the Flighty Drunk, the Hot But Bitchy Ex, the Gay Friends, and the Moocher. It does manage to overcome these shortcomings by movie’s end, but just barely. It’s amusing while it’s happening, but there isn’t much that you’ll take home with you.
Michael Cera is Nick, the heartbroken bassist for the punk band the Jerkoffs. The breaking of his heart was done by Tris (Alexis Dziena), on his birthday, no less, and Nick is still making her mix discs and leaving her voice mails in the hopes that she’ll change her mind. Tris has no appreciation for the mixes, but friend-of-a-friend Norah (Kay Dennings) does, as Nick’s taste in music is identical to hers. One Friday night, Nick has a gig, after which he and his bandmates are off to find the surprise gig by Where’s Fluffy, their favorite band. Norah and her friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) have the same plan, and happen to begin their night at the Jerkoffs’ gig, as do Tris and her new, clueless college boyfriend. After Tris shames Norah for being out alone (Caroline is drunk and making out with a stranger elsewhere in the bar), Norah walks up to Nick and asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend, completely unaware that he is Tris’ ex. From there the night becomes an all-night search for Where’s Fluffy, Caroline (long story), and ultimately, closure and self-respect.
Michael Cera might be the funniest person in movies that no one talks about. He can take a punch better than just about anyone, but he’s no pushover; in fact, those who know him from his work on “Arrested Development” and “Superbad” might be surprised at his ability to dish it out as well as he takes it. The rest of the movie’s characters occasionally say and do funny things, but aren’t particularly funny. Caroline, in particular, is just a device to keep the characters on the move. Tris is admittedly hot, but never given the chance to be anything but the bitchy ex, and you can tell that the filmmakers didn’t plan for her to be anything more than that by the fact that they made her wear jeans and fuck-me pumps throughout the movie.
The casting of Kat Dennings is to be applauded, though; she’s genuine and sweet, and in an industry full of Beautiful People, it’s nice to see someone like Dennings get the guy. Even in the movies that feature an underdog cutie, they’re usually smoking-hot girls wearing Lisa Loeb cat glasses. Dennings is an attractive girl, but not a hot one, and by this writer’s count, the last time a movie had that much discrepancy between its female leads was when Janeane Garofalo beat out Uma Thurman for Ben Chaplin’s heart in “The Truth about Cats and Dogs.” That was 12 years ago, for those keeping score at home.
It’s funny that this hits theaters the same week that “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” hits DVD, since there are parallels to the story lines: despondent dumpee meets girl that is clearly a better match, but has trouble letting go of the girl that broke his heart. Tone down the language and sex, pepper the filler dialogue with music references (the Cure, according to Norah, should be called the Cause), add a dash of “Harold & Kumar”-style insanity (one of whom appears here in a cameo), not to mention a “Trainspotting” reference – yes, that “Trainspotting” reference – and you have “Nick and Norah,” for better and for worse. I really wanted to like it more, but it didn’t give me the chance to get to know it better.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
Columbia is fast becoming the benchmark for awesome DVD bonus features. "Nick & Norah" made just over $30 million at the box office, but this single-disc DVD release is filled with extra goodies. Director Peter Sollett does double duty and contributes two audio commentaries, one with Michael Cera, Kat Dennings and Ari Graynor, and another with the screenwriter and authors of the original story. There are tons of deleted and extended scenes – owners of the DVDs for "Talladega Nights" and "Step Brothers" know that Sony is fond of showing each one-liner for a certain joke, and God love them for it – and there is a better-than-usual blooper reel and a video diary. The best of the bunch, though, is Kat Dennings' puppet show re-creation of the movie, complete with random bear attacks. And there's still more; a music video, storyboard drawings, photos shot by Sollett, and the trailer, as well as a digital copy of the movie. Bravo, Sony.